The Throne in Heaven
The fourth chapter of Revelation sets the stage for the opening of the scroll, which symbolizes the unleashing of the divine will. In this chapter, John is invited to approach the throne room of Heaven, where he sees the saints offering continual praise to God, the Creator of all, and not the Roman Caesar.
There are 24 elders surrounding the throne. This number represents the whole company of believers, with twelve representing the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve representing the disciples of Jesus. Their white gowns and crowns of gold symbolize the victory over the earthly powers and principalities because of their commitment to God’s Messiah.
Also, John sees four living creatures. These creatures symbolize the whole of the created order, much in the same way they did for the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:6, 10). They show that the God and Father of the Lord Jesus is the God of Creation, and His power stands above every other worldly power—an important point for a people being persecuted by an Empire resistant to opposition.
John needs such a vision to remind him that what he’s up against with the powers that exiled him and that are holding back the church’s witness will not prevail. God will prevail. God will hold the powers of evil accountable for all they have done to His good creation, and they will not be able to stand against His purposes that are soon to be unleashed.
For many of us, our understanding of God is too small. We could benefit from a vision of God Who is truly worthy of our worship and praise because of how He transcends all creation and holds everything in His hands. We may not always know what the future holds, but as Revelation reminds us, we can indeed know Who holds the future and how He is able to hold us as we hold fast to our faith in Christ.
Revelation 4 (ESV):
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”